If you are a philandering politician, that is. Or a politician that controls a police force and wants to use it for nefarious means.
Because it's A-Ok. There's nothing the law can do. You're as free as an economic developer - almost - to steal about the state.
The laws, a specially appointed prosecutor in charge of probing the dirt around former Gov. Robert Bentley and his extracurricular affairs announced Wednesday, simply don't apply to you.
Or your less-significant other.
Former Montgomery County District Attorney Ellen Brooks, appointed in place of Bentley-appointee and attorney general Steve Marshall to probe the affairs of the former governor, said the investigation was closed and no other charges would be filed.
Not because terrible things weren't done, but because the law does not apply.
Brooks' report said laws should be changed, because under the current statutes it doesn't matter what Bentley did with Rebekah Mason or what he might have spent on her. It doesn't not matter if he called out the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to pursue his own prurient interests, and it matters not if some Big Mule wants to pay to put their own agent in the governor's office.All terrible stuff, as Brooks said. But not illegal.
Or as the report put it:
"We found a number of serious concerns about current state law that hinder successful prosecution."
* Among those, the ethics law does not cover non-spousal intimate or romantic relationships.
* The law authorizes the governor to appoint the Secretary of Law Enforcement and does not prohibit the governor from initiating, directing, or receiving reports on criminal investigations for illegitimate political purposes.
* State law does not prohibit non-government personnel from performing the work of a public employee while being paid by a private entity, a so-called "loaned executive" arrangement.
Special prosecutor Ellen Brooks unveiled the findings of the Robert Bentley grand jury Wednesday, April 4, 2018.
Dearly beloved. A number of concerns? Let me remind you that the Alabama Legislature thought the most important act of its 2018 session was to loosen up the ethics law because it was too constricting, to give people who lobby for their own interests but call themselves economic developers a path around the ethics law.
Heavens to Mergatroid. This is a state what will throw a 22-year-old teacher in the slammer for having an affair with a man or woman old enough to serve in the U.S. military. This is a state where politicians would rather lock 'em up than look at 'em. Unless they're looking in the mirror.This is a state where the attorney general - thinking more of his campaign to win his job than any campaign to serve Alabama - abdicated his role as prosecutor-in-chief to put off discussion of the ethics law until after the election.
This is a state that dares defend the sanctity of marriage, but incentivizes politicians to have extramarital affairs, and allows them to use official state police to pull it off.
Alabama has work to do. Like making the law apply to its leaders. Like applying to law to its leaders as diligently as it does to everybody else.
Brooks in her press conference waxed philosophical about the nature of her work.
"A lot of crime is wrapped up in greed, and sex, and drugs," she said. "As long as we have those on earth we will have crime."
I suppose that's true.
Only in Alabama, the greed and the sex aren't crimes at all. Depending on who you are.
John Archibald's column appears in The Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Register and AL.com. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.